Chelsea Flower Show – The Growth of Our Gardens
With Chelsea Flower Show starting on the 22nd May, it has got us talking about our gardens around the barns and how we started planning them only last year. What a difference a year makes! This photo was taken on a cold day in February 2017. You can see that the barn conversions are underway, but we were also planning the outside areas and gardens.
Getting the gardens and outside areas right was really important to us and we spent hours discussing the best plans to make. We decided that the gardens should fit comfortably into our beautiful rural landscape, with a cottage garden feel to create a casual, relaxing place for our guests to enjoy. We took into account paving around the swim spa, outdoor dining and barbecue areas. We also wanted lawned areas and decided to use hedging to divide the barns and create privacy. Each barn has an inner, sheltered courtyard and we decided this could have a different, contemporary look, providing a contrast to the garden areas.
None of us have garden qualifications, but all appreciate a lovely garden. With this being said, we drew out plans, added to them, changed them and eventually came up with a plan that seemed to work. We researched every aspect of the design; hard landscaping, swim spa installation, hedging and planting.
We decided to use a mix of hedging to include photinia Red Robin, laurel and beech to give us year-round interest. As we needed pretty much instant hedging, we purchased well grown plants which were delivered in huge trucks, along with some mature trees ‘Pyrus Chanticleer’ for the roadside and a purple-leaved circis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ for the central point in the courtyards. The first hedges were planted in May 2017. To say that it was an exciting day is an understatement.
We grew lots of small evergreen plants and perennials, alongside hundreds of annuals from seed so that we had a good show in the first two gardens of Red Oak Barn and Holly Tree Barn that were opening in July. We grew annuals such as sunflowers, larkspur and cosmos in pots on any spare piece of our gardens, battling with slugs and snails. We bought quite a few large plants which we divided and grew in pots ready for planting out.
Towards the end of May we gathered up the plants from my Aunt’s garden in the village and couldn’t wait to start planting the gardens.
At the beginning we had a strange mix of building site and tiny borders. Would it ever come together as a real garden?
On the hottest day of the year, plants could be found in the most unorthodox places!
By the first week in July the paving was down and the turf laid in Red Oak garden. We couldn’t believe how lovely it was looking. Hedges were planted and doing well and the beginnings of borders were taking shape.
At the beginning of August, the turf was laid on the roadside verge. The photinia hedge was looking good.
This photo was taken on the 15th August and the gardens look amazingly well-established. We were helped a lot by the fertile clay soil which gave all of the plants a good start.
Cosmos lemonade and giant sunflowers looked good together in a corner border.
We were thrilled to pick flowers from our new gardens ready in time for our guests’ arrival.
We had planted wild flower seed on the bank area beyond the barns and were able to pick some for vases. They didn’t do as well as we had hoped – perhaps they will grow and spread over a wider area this year. We certainly hope so!
In the autumn we decided to plant lots of tulips for spring colour. We spent about three weeks deciding which colours and types to plant – yes really! In the end we decided on very dark purple ‘Queen of the night’ , orange ‘Dordogne’ and pink ‘Pink Diamond’ tulips. These have made a fabulous show over the past few weeks.
We planted the wild British native daffodil, ‘Narcissus pseudonarcissus’ on the wild flower bank but unfortunately had quite a poor showing this year. We are hoping that it will begin to spread next year with more flowers.
We are now wondering what we should do as far as planting goes this autumn – will the tulips come up again? Should we plant more of the same in case they don’t? Has anyone got any garden ideas?
When we have a chance, we look around at the gardens and marvel at how quickly nature takes hold. What seemed at times an uphill struggle to create gardens, has all come to fruition. It has been hard work, but hugely rewarding and enjoyable. As with all gardens we still have lots to plan and do. We are going to use cosmos and ammi majus this summer to give a natural country garden effect. We will take a look at Chelsea Flower Show 2018 from Tuesday 22nd May to Saturday 26th May and are sure to get some new garden ideas! If anyone has any suggestions, we would love to hear from you.
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